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Disability Rights Have Been Bipartisan: Will Donald Trump End That?

Posted by ROLAND REZNIK on June 07, 2016. 0 Comments

Co-Author of the Americans with Disability Act, Tony Coehlo has voiced his concern regarding disability rights in the future. The current presidential election has put a spotlight on nominees and their views about the disabled community. According to Coehlo, everything regarding disabilities was always bipartisan, especially when it comes to the ADA. Coehlo is currently advising Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton regarding disability issues.

Clinton was one of the first candidates to discuss disability issues. In the beginning, her remarks were often insensitive toward the disabled community. Clinton has since requested the assistance of former Sen. Tom Harkin and Tony Coelho to refine her campaign’s positions on disability rights. She has gradually won praise for focusing on disability rights throughout her campaign.

Republican presumptive nominee, Donald Trump, has exhibited a variety of conflicting behaviors regarding the disabled community. Trump has mocked a disabled reporter and accused him of using his disability to grandstand. Later during his campaign, he announced at a rally in Florida that he donates tens of millions of dollars to the disabled community mentioning that the Americans with Disabilities Act is important. Trump later became offended when he was questioned whether he gave as much as he stated. He simply stated, “I am proud to give to the disabled community.”

History has proven disability issues have crossed party lines. However, growing skepticism of the ADA by some congressional Republicans and the era of Trump have many disability activists alarmed. Most disability activists agree that both party nominees should address opportunities for the disabled community. The lack of interest in disabled-related issues such as caregiving, employment, and healthcare have many activists concerned that their needs as American’s will not be addressed.

Currently, there is a Twitter hashtag campaign, #cripthevote created by activists Gregg Beratan, Alice Wong and Andrew Pulrang. They are bringing attention to the use of offensive words such as “crippled” or “crip.” Donald Trump voiced his concern and attempt to be politically correct, saying, “Only use the term accessible parking instead of handicap parking, even though people have handicapped permits.” He also commented that he tries to never say a disabled person, instead he says a person with disabilities. He later commented that it’s complicated to always remain politically correct in the moment because everyone doesn’t have the time to do it. Activists still go forward with the Twitter campaign and are eager to get their voice heard.

The disabled community understands disability policy issues are complex. However, they would appreciate if candidates would learn more details and show an effort to reach out to the community. Activists are willing to provide insight, advice, and support to candidates who are interested in focusing on disability issues and finding resolutions.

Activists remain concerned that Trump will end bipartisan as President of the United States of America. If elected, Trump may surprise the disabled community by addressing problems and finding solutions to a variety of issues the disabled community faces on a daily basis. Will disability rights remain bipartisan? Only the future will tell.

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